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Representation and Student Research Topics: The Archives of Classical Scholarship

Sarah A. Buchanan

University of Missouri

We present a digital resource, the Archives of Classical Scholarship, that advances student research by fostering discovery, topical breadth, and affinity with preceding scholars' groundwork, enriching the field generally. The universe of classical scholarship spans disciplines, centuries, and national boundaries, and classicists embrace a globally diverse textual corpus. In classical studies classrooms, instructors endeavor to introduce students to specific topics while also raising awareness of the areas where scholars have dedicated years and decades of effort. Students eventually must select a research topic, for a class or thesis. Often we pursue topics briefly mentioned in classes, topics that extend personal interests, or topics suggested by advisors or university archivists and librarians knowledgeable about subject and local resources. Yet many potential topics we find are too often out of sight and unknown to new researchers seeking to study the field's persistent questions. We need a place where students can find ideas that resonate.

The purpose of our work is to connect classical scholars with the archival corpus of collections (original research materials that range in medium and completion, from born-digital to unpublished) available in archives around the world. To accomplish our goal we compile information, seeking to broaden awareness of the career contributions of classical scholars and accelerate scholarly research in areas revealed to be incomplete. We integrate multiple nodes (people, places, time, and topics) in developing a resource, the Archives of Classical Scholarship (ArCla). Similar research but focused outside of classical scholarship includes work on a national directory of artist files (Deutch and McKay), and examinations of the historical contributions of art conservators and Biblical scholars who are women (McKinstry, WBS). Barriers of geography, era, and topic specialty that we use to categorize scholarship are alleviated if we use digital tools to carry out the learning and research process.

ArCla (available at https://classicsforum.github.io/ArCla/) is an online directory to the locations of archival papers (manuscripts) of American classicists and classical archaeologists. This resource builds on efforts begun and supported by members and leaders of the Society for Classical Studies: by December 2017, ArCla will describe over 400 scholars based on preliminary work by a classics librarians’ forum, plus additional scholars mentioned in published encyclopedias and monographs about the history of our field (Briggs, Lindau). The structure of the resource we present is designed to accommodate growth as we add new scholars, breadth with regard to scholars’ topics of study across the classical world, and inclusiveness in describing individual scholarly contributions.

The initial scope has led to exciting and unexpected results: our project has created a substructure for fostering serendipitous discovery in classical studies. In raising students’ cognizance of scholars whose work has previously been overlooked, our project gives students access to topics that they otherwise might not consider. Consider the biography of Ernst Moritz Manasse (1908-1997), a Jewish scholar of Greek philosophy and philology who left his German homeland in 1935. He is among a few dozen refugee scholars who found unexpected positions in historically black colleges and universities. Manasse would reside in segregated North Carolina, teaching as chair and professor of German, Latin, and philosophy for over thirty years at North Carolina Central University (Edgcomb). His experiences and scholarship, and those of fellow refugee and minority scholars, are stories that we endeavor to introduce to a wider audience through our project. Researchers and students with various motivations for studying the ancient world can consult our pathfinder to pursue study of areas that might otherwise remain unfinished.

This talk will contextualize our experience – gathering heterogenous data from prior efforts and creating a broadly accessible resource while working across disciplines – as part of an ongoing conversation about teaching for learning. The resource supports collaborative additions to the corpus. The new knowledge compiled in our project can be used in service of our larger goals as a society: developing pedagogical resources to support all learners.

Session/Panel Title:

Digital Pedagogy

Session/Paper Number

74.2

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